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March 14, 2014

Tony Bennett

Anthony Gill

Joe Harris


Virginia – 64
Florida State – 51

COACH BENNETT:  Okay.  Well, first of all, I think hard‑fought game.  I knew it was going to be physical.  I thought Joe Harris really kept us going and Anthony Gill in the first half, and I think one of the strengths in our team this year has been depth.  So when a guy like Malcolm to have an uncharacteristic game for him, to see those guys step up, and just getting the contributions from the masses, that was important.  And I think that was a key in the game.
They turned us over early.  We looked shaky.  They did a good job.  They got on the offensive glass early.  When we shored those things up and had a level of patience, I thought we became a better team and knowing obviously of their talent.

Q.  I know you said you expected Joe to elevate his play here on the stage, but when a few of those shots go down early, how much better do you feel knowing, okay, it's happening?
COACH BENNETT:  No.  He certainly did a good job.  Joe has ‑‑ one of his strengths is he knows when to step up.  We talked about this yesterday, actually Joe and I did.  He knows when to let it come.  I thought he really did a great job early when we needed some things, showed a variety of things he can do, which I thought was very good and I thought he was locked in defensively as well.

Q.  Early on in the game Florida State had a huge advantage rebounding.  Did you get an opportunity to address that with the players or did they just kind of solve that themselves?
COACH BENNETT:  Of course we talked about it during the timeouts.  At halftime that was our thing.  I thought we were even better at the end of the first half.  I thought we were keeping them off of the glass.  But our careless turnovers or turnovers that led to opportunities for them and then their offensive rebounding were the two areas that we had to get under control if we were going to be successful.

Q.  A lot of us thought that you seemed more animated than usual on the sidelines.  Can you talk about your thoughts going in to the game?
COACH BENNETT:  Well, I mean, it was a physical game.  You got to be ready.  We haven't played for a while.  I think just it's‑‑ this is‑‑ not that it's okay to not be that way during the regular season.  But this is a great opportunity for us.  I thought our guys were ready.  We wanted to set the tone.  I was just trying to encourage and be engaged and be passionate.
That's what we talked about to our guys.  Be passionate.  Play with passion‑‑ wisdom, passion and compassion.  Those were the three things we talked about today in playing that way.

Q.  Tony, the 26 bench points tonight, Akil and Darion, could you maybe just talk how big that was for‑‑
COACH BENNETT:  You mean Anthony.

Q.  Sorry.  Anthony and Darion.
COACH BENNETT:  I can't believe he's disrespecting you like that.
Darion, as I said, gave us a big lift.  We've seen Anthony do that.  We needed that.  I thought Anthony was all over the offensive glass.  They got such shot blockers when we got into the paint and a shot went up.  Anthony has good timing and a good nose for that.  Just looking at him, he had four offense rebounds.  Only one defensive rebound.
But really that was important for us.  I think as I said in the opening statement, when Malcolm was a little off, the other guys stepped up and that was certainly key.

Q.  Joe, Coach had said during the week he anticipated you elevating your play here.  Did you come in with a more aggressive mindset?  I know you talked about that a bunch.
JOE HARRIS:  I would just say you take it with the feel of the game.  You kind of have a sense of when you need to be aggressive and when not to be aggressive.
I thought I was getting my guys lost a little bit being able to move without the ball.  Guys like AG, Akil, DA, they're all setting very good screens and allowed me to get some looks and I was able to constantly keep my guys in movement which allowed me to get some open shots.

Q.  Anthony, talk about the motivation today.  Were you aware of Virginia's recent lack of success in this tournament?
ANTHONY GILL:  Yeah, I was here to watch the loss last year to NC State.  I feel like today we just really wanted to go out there and prove to everybody that we deserved to be here.  We deserved to be the number one seed.  We went out there and executed.

Q.  Anthony, to have this kind of game so close to your home town of High Point, does that make it more special?
ANTHONY GILL:  Yeah.  You know, I joke with you all of the time saying High Point is the greatest city in the world, and I believe it.  It was good to have the fans out there for me and everything.  So it was good.

Q.  Anthony, growing up in North Carolina, did you attend a lot of ACC tournaments and what were some of your memories that you recall of big games here?
ANTHONY GILL:  I really did not attend too many ACC tournament games.  I really didn't get focused or start focusing on basketball until probably my sophomore year of high school.

Q.  For Joe, how often have you heard the name Ralph Sampson?  How often has that history been sort of thrown in the face of teams over the years to try and match what was done so long ago?
JOE HARRIS:  I would say that we've been fortunate to have Ralph ‑‑ we've met him a couple of times.  He came and spoke to us I think my first year when we played at Minnesota.  His son happened to play here.  He came to Charlottesville my second year.  We saw him after the Georgia Tech game this year in Atlanta.
Other than most of the media I guess talking about the run that we made this season and drawing comparisons, you kind of maybe hear about him a little bit here and there.  Obviously he was an unbelievable college player, but the comparisons and all of that didn't happen at all until this season when we started winning games.

Q.  Tony, Joe said he kind of went with the feel of the game.  But could you tell early he was feeling it and did you change any of your play calls to take advantage of that at all?
COACH BENNETT:  No.  As I said, I think one of Joe's strengths, when my father and I were talking about him, he has a good feel when to let it come and when to be assertive.  He senses.  He doesn't get it right all of the time.  He senses when something is required of him.
I thought he had a good beat.  Again, he said it.  He was moving.  I thought we were a little stagnant early.  He was moving very hard without the ball.  He was breaking the vision of some of the Florida State defenders and the guys were setting good screens.  You could see him get in that space where he could catch it and either make the play, whether it's a shot, mid‑range game, I think he showed a lot of things.  I want him to be assertive and aggressive with soundness, and I thought he had the right balance mark.

Q.  Joe and Anthony, obviously Okaro White came out and said some things, kind of questioned the toughness of the team yesterday.  How much did that motivate you guys coming in to this game?
ANTHONY GILL:  You know, we heard about all of that stuff.  And we were on our way here when we saw it.  But Coach Bennett, he kind of like reeled us back in whenever anybody was kind of getting a little bit hyped.  He told us it's not about that.  It's all about us.  To stay poised throughout the whole game and don't lose your mind out there.  That's what we tried do throughout the game.

Q.  Anthony, second half, how did the defense interior change especially regarding Okaro White?
ANTHONY GILL:  They were getting a lot of offensive rebounds and Coach Bennett really challenged us at halftime to stop them from doing that.  We did our best, the X‑outs and everything like that on the ball screens, we tried to focus in on that so he didn't get that 15‑foot jump shot.

Q.  Tony, can you talk about Akil on Okaro White in the second half?
COACH BENNETT:  Yeah, that was an important match‑up.  One of Akil's strengths, and I think Anthony has really improved in that, specifically Akil, his mobility defensively, whether it's to guard a five, a mobile four, sometimes even a three.  And white can really‑‑ he's not shooting as many threes late in the year, but he can stretch it with his long ball.  And then he's quick off the bounce.
So you got to have a guy who individually can at least contain him a little bit until our help was in position.  I thought Akil's mobility and defensive prowess showed and it was an important match‑up for us.  That's why we stayed out of foul trouble with them.
Darion did a good job.  I don't think Anthony‑‑ you didn't match up on him too much.  Those two guys, their quick ness and Anthony's mobility certainly are important because he can get it going.

Q.  Coach, if you could just talk about first time since '95 that the Cavaliers will be playing on Saturday and either Pitt or North Carolina obviously the opponent coming up.
COACH BENNETT:  Yeah, two good teams.  Great opportunity.  Post‑season is a special time.  To be able to come out after not playing our best against Maryland, not poor but not our best, to come out and play a little more indicative of how we want to play was important for us and then a chance to advance.  Knowing that this is a special tournament and for these guys to take that next step is exciting and we'll play good teams.  We'll be ready to go tomorrow.

Q.  Tony, there have been a couple of reports that have come out that the ACC tournament is close to finalizing a deal with the Barclays Center starting in 2017.  What would you think of that move?
COACH BENNETT:  First of all, I would be the last to know if that was valid or not.  This is wonderful here.  We'll show up and play anywhere, though.  I'll tell you that much.  This is a special place.
I went to the ACC tournament in 1995, when I was playing with the Hornets.  Mike Jaminski was my teammate and JR Reid and I heard those guys talking about it.  I remember I went in '95 with my fiancee at the time back then.  It was unbelievable.  I remember sitting up there and I got my first taste of how special the tournament is here.
But post‑season play is special.  And obviously whatever the ACC decides to do, we'll show up and we'll be excited to play anywhere.  It's going to be in D.C., isn't it, first in a couple of years?  So I'll just focus on Greensboro and D.C. for now.  I got to slow down a little bit.

Q.  Joe, after the last two games, prior to the tournament you seemed to struggle with your shooting stroke.  A lot of balls were in and out it seemed like.  Today almost from the get‑go, you seemed determined to lead the team on offense.  Talk about the mindset between that last game at Maryland and today.
JOE HARRIS:  I would just say as a shooter, our coaches are always stressing to have short‑term memory.  You can't worry about however many shots you might have missed in the past.  Shoot the ball with the same amount of confidence no matter if you missed eight in a row or hit eight in a row.  I don't worry too much about missing shots.  I just try to go out there and I'm going to let it go and whatever is best for our team in that situation.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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